Having dietary restrictions, there’s a lot I can’t eat. Luckily, I’m not alone in this plight, with 16 million vegetarians and vegans in America. However, when we have to cook food we can’t actually eat (i.e. a Celiac making brownies for a friend’s birthday), a problem arises: How do we know what the food tastes like if we can’t eat it?
I wanted to prove that you don’t always need to taste your food to know it will be a success. I chose the most beloved food in the world: Chocolate chip cookies. I’ve made chocolate chip cookies before, and years of watching Masterchef prepared me well for this cooking challenge, so I felt confident in my baking abilities.
I used the classic NestléⓇ Toll HouseⓇ Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and rounded up some hungry Spoonies to act as my test group. In addition to tasting the homemade cookies, they also tried store-bought chocolate chip cookies and gave feedback on both.
I prepared a survey sheet to get honest evaluations — I asked the cookie critics to rank both cookies based on desired sweetness, texture, and ratio of chocolate chips to dough.
Success! (According to my friends.) The combination of perfect ratios and straight-out-of-the-oven warmth set the homemade cookies apart from the store-bought brand.
On a scale from 1-7 with 7 being the best, the store-bought cookies ranked on the lower end of the spectrum, while the homemade cookies received 5-7’s in the taste category.
Some notes left about the store-bought cookies were: “Personally, I like soft and chewy cookies, and these were the opposite,” and “Super dry. Tastes like sadness.”
The final question:
The last question I had for the cookie critics was: “Do you think that it’s necessary to taste your food in order to know if it will turn out okay?”
Almost all answered “no,” but pointed out that there are instances when tasting your food is important. And I agree — especially when seasoning. However, I don’t believe that a gluten-, sugar-, dairy-, and lectin-free foodie, such as myself, should be afraid of baking cookies because she will never know if they taste like they did in her childhood.
I didn’t come up with this test as a source of validation for my baking abilities, but rather to encourage people to take risks when it comes to food, whether that’s trying to recreate a Pinterest-worthy recipe or ordering that dish you’ve always been curious about (#SpoonTip: Beware of sweetbreads).
Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or on a special diet, just because you’ve said goodbye to certain foods doesn’t mean you can’t revisit them. We can still gain from cooking we may not get to enjoy — I certainly loved being back in a kitchen filled with the aromas of vanilla and cookie dough.